recent report in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that melanoma rates among young women in the United States have increased 50 percent since the 1980s. Such statistics are one reason that over the past 20 years, the aquatics industry has seen a major push for sun safety.

One of the most noticeable changes around the pool is the increased use of shade structures. Today?s pool patrons are demanding it. Concerns about health and safety are prevalent not only in the guest?s mind but also in the design process for new facilities and upgrades.

?Today we find ourselves adding more shade in development plans so that operators can add more in the future [as] quickly and efficiently as budgets allow,? says Scott Stefanc, ASLA Design Team Water Technology Inc. / Neuman Group. ?These improvements go to satisfying one of the primary requests from guest surveys of what can improve their experience.?

Mark Hatchel, RLA, ASLA, agrees. As vice president at Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.?s Irvine, Texas, office, he has seen an increased demand for shade and notes that today?s structures are much more economical and durable. Advances in the materials used in construction also have enabled shade structures to better block harmful UV rays.

In addition to protecting patrons, the last two decades have seen increased efforts to protect staffs. So at one time, a major perk of a lifeguarding job was the great tan, but according to experts, today?s guards are generally required to wear sunscreen and protective clothing. Most also now work under umbrellas or some other shading, and leading operators say young guards are generally more than happy to comply, having a better understanding of the skin cancer risks than their predecessors.